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Situated between Eastern and Western European cultures and coined by a changing history, Poland developed a rich cultural heritage, including numerous historical monuments and 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.The origin of the name Poland derives from the West Slavic tribe of Polans (Polanie) that inhabited the Warta River basin of the historic Greater Poland region starting in the 6th century.In 1320, after a number of earlier unsuccessful attempts by regional rulers at uniting the Polish dukedoms, Władysław I consolidated his power, took the throne and became the first king of a reunified Poland.His son, Casimir III (reigned 1333–70), has a reputation as one of the greatest Polish kings, and gained wide recognition for improving the country's infrastructure.

Following the partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, Poland regained its independence in 1918 with the Treaty of Versailles.Poland's first historically documented ruler, Mieszko I, accepted Christianity with the Baptism of Poland in 966, as the new official religion of his subjects.The bulk of the population converted in the course of the next few centuries.In 1264, the Statute of Kalisz or the General Charter of Jewish Liberties introduced numerous right for the Jews in Poland, leading to a nearly autonomous "nation within a nation".In the middle of the 13th century, the Silesian branch of the Piast dynasty (Henry I the Bearded and Henry II the Pious, ruled 1238–41) nearly succeeded in uniting the Polish lands, but the Mongols invaded the country from the east and defeated the combined Polish forces at the Battle of Legnica where Duke Henry II the Pious died.

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